Graduate Study
Prospective PhD Students
Application Information

Thank you for considering the Department of Mechanical Engineering for your graduate education. Refer to the application information on this page as you apply to earn your PhD degree.

Students with a bachelor's degree may apply to the PhD program directly. Nearly all of our admitted PhD students receive full financial support including tuition, health insurance, and monthly stipend provided that students are committed to the PhD program. The tuition amount is available through The Graduate School.

All applications are evaluated based on a number of factors, including:

Those whose native language is not English must also supply Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) scores with a minimum of 577 or higher on the paper-based text, 233 or higher on the computer-based test, and 90 or higher on the Internet-based test. An International English Language Testing System (IELTS) score of 7.0 also fulfills this requirement.

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How to Apply

  • If you are planning to apply to the PhD program in mechanical engineering, you should access the online application through The Graduate School.
  • Applications for 2018 will become available on September 6, 2017 through the TGS website.
  • We encourage you to explore the mechanical engineering website for faculty research interests and additional information on graduate study.
  • The program code for the PhD program in mechanical engineering is M40PH.


For the upcoming graduate admissions season, which opens on September 6, 2017, applicants hoping to enroll in the McCormick School of Engineering and Applied Science in Fall 2017 will be able to submit applications to up to two PhD programs.  Applicants interested in this option are required to designate their first and second choice of the two PhD programs.  The fee for an application to a single program is $95; the fee for an application to two programs is $150.

The program listed as the applicant’s first choice will take precedence in admissions decisions.  The second choice program will review an applicant’s file only if the first choice program does not admit the student.

A PhD applicant may also request that her or his file be considered for a self-funded Master’s degree in the first choice fields if she/he is not admitted to the PhD Program.

Questions about the two-application process should be referred to Bruce A. Lindvall, Assistant Dean for Graduate Studies, at

Application Deadlines

  • Applications to the PhD program and test scores should be submitted to The Graduate School by December 15 for admission in the following fall. In order to ensure full consideration, PhD applications should be received by December 15.
  • Applications for the PhD program received after December 15 will still be considered until all the Fellowship/RA/TA positions are filled. Fellowships are only awarded to students applying to the fall quarter admission.
  • PhD applicants for the winter, spring, and summer quarters must consult with the director of graduate studies before submitting the applications.

Documents Required with Application

Detailed information about the required documentation is available in the online application. Required items:

1. $95 non-refundable application fee, paid via credit card through the online application process

2. Completed online application form

3. The following documents need to be submitted online:

  • Statement of purpose
  • Resume or curriculum vitae
  • Two letters of recommendation

4. Official test scores for GRE and TOEFL (minimum of 90 if required) or IELTS (minimum of 7.0 if required). Official scores should be sent to Northwestern University at institution code 1565. Alternatively, you may upload copies of your GRE, TOEFL, or IELTS score reports online with your application and Northwestern staff will call ETS to verify the scores.

5. Optional: Women and members of under-represented minorities (African American, Hispanic, and Native American applicants) are encouraged to submit a diversity statement to identify themselves as possible candidates for specially designated fellowships. Any other information (such as published research papers) that make your application stronger should also be uploaded online. The writing sample is not needed for Mechanical Engineering applications.

Information for Incoming Students

Decisions for fall quarter admissions may be made as early as January 15 and will be continuously made until all positions are filled. The vast majority will be decided by the end of March.


Admitted students are encouraged to visit Northwestern prior to making a decision on the offer of admission and support. Visits may be individually scheduled. The purpose of these visits is to enable prospective students to meet with faculty members, to get an idea of some of the research activities in the department, and to explore the Northwestern campus and surroundings.

Next Steps

Admitted students should visit The Graduate School's webpage for admitted students to submit an enrollment decision. Decisions should be entered by April 15.